Seminar “Reproductive Medicine and Masculinity”

IGS Seminar (Reproductive Issue Series) “Reproductive Medicine and Masculinity”

In recent years in Japan, there are many research findings related to the use of fertility treatments and prenatal testing focused on women. Men in fact are also involved in the use of reproductive medicine; however, we see few studies focused on men in Japan. It is said that male infertility is a big stigma for men. At each stage of fertility treatment for pregnancy and childbirth, men have a tendency to be isolated, worrying about it alone and not discussing it with their partners and others. In practice, women often take the initiative even though the fertility problem is caused by male partners. What do men think when their female partners are taking reproductive medicine for male infertility? As demand for reproductive medicine is expected to increase in the future, research on the psychology and behavior of males will also be very important to consider in achieving a better environment for reproductive medicine. In this seminar, two researchers reported on how male parties perceive prenatal testing when they had to make a decision about it and when their female partner underwent it.

The first reporter, Setsuko Sugano (Rikkyo University), has conducted numerous interview surveys with infertile women and noticed that women often mentioned the husband when they talked about their experiences of infertility treatments and prenatal testing. Prenatal testing is performed on the body of a pregnant woman. Sugano became interested in what men thought and what kinds of feelings they had when they were offered the option of prenatal testing. Sugano mentioned that there is a difference in their thoughts and feelings about prenatal testing according to whether women took initiatives or the men took initiatives. And if they had experienced miscarriage, that also was reflected in their decision whether or not to undergo prenatal testing. And Sugano is interested in whether men may be pre-reading the feelings of female partners before and after they were undergoing prenatal testing.

The second reporter, Keisuke Saito (Okayama University), talked about the issues of prenatal diagnosis from the husband’s perspective. Saito conducted the interview survey on husbands in Tokyo in the fall of 2017 regarding experiences of decision-making about prenatal testing. The husband is also involved in prenatal testing though it is carried out on his wife’s body. Saito mentioned that it is often emphasized that men are out-of-touch and feel less responsible about reproductive medicine compared to women, and yet Saito found that men also dithered about whether they should have used prenatal testing, and then went on to accept the result with sincerity. He also mentioned that men’s way of thinking about a fetus’s disability is related to their working style. He noted that life courses could have a greater impact on their thinking, and said that there was still not enough evidence to show that there is a gender gap in prenatal diagnosis between women and men.

The opinions and questions were actively raised from the floor after their presentations, and a good discussion was possible.

Yukari Semba(IGS project research fellow, Ochanomizu University)

【Dates】Friday 26th JUL 2019, 18:00-20:30
【Venue】#126, 1st floor, Main Building, Ochanomizu University
Setsuko Sugano, Ph.D., Institute of Social Welfare, Rikkyo University,
“The significance of the research regarding male attitudes in reproductive medicines”
Keisuke Saito, Ph.D., Okayama University Faculty of Letters,
“How men have faced prenatal diagnosis”
【 Moderator 】Yukari Semba, Ph.D., IGS, Ochanomizu University
【Organizer】IGS, Ochanimizu University
【Number of Participant】40 people